My youngest returned to college today. He’s local, so we both drove over to the apartment he’s renting with a friend. I waited on the sidewalk as he went up the three steps into the building, then up the flight of stairs to his second floor apartment. He inspected the rooms, and then came back outside with the lease and the landlady. On the sidewalk, I signed the lease and wrote her a check for the first month’s rent and the security deposit. None of us acknowledged the lack of access verbally.
As I drove away, leaving him to unload the truck, I realized that lack of access to buildings is lack of access to the people who live, play and work in them. I’ve already lost that access to my siblings, all of whom live in inaccessible homes. Now that my children are growing up and out of our house, what are the chances that I will ever be able to spend time with them in any of the apartments or houses they will inhabit in the future?
Accessible, or even visitable, housing stock is an incredibly rare commodity. If one of my able-bodied children were to rent an accessible house or apartment, would she be taking it from someone who needs accessibility every day? Yes.
It’s a different situation, of course, if you have money and you own the property you live in. Then you can build or modify for accessibility. But in the current economy, I somehow can’t see my kids being able to do anything like that anytime soon.
On a completely different note, it’s best to Just Say No to driving around a college town the week the students move in.